Giorgio Rapicavoli, the James Beard nominee and chef at Miami’s Eating House and Glass & Vine, is known for his wild menus: dishes like Captain Crunch pancakes with milk syrup, nachos with black truffle queso, PBJ poutine — nothing is off limits. Put the chef in Marlins Park, with its updated, diverse concessions, and you’ve got a kid in a candy shop, "I try to make the Monday games," he says, "on my day off."
Rapicavoli, a Miamian with a soft spot for the Marlins, usually dives into the classics at a ballpark, like hot dogs and cotton candy. But today he is taking a spin through the stadium to get a taste of what’s new. It’s worth investigating — as he notes, who’d have predicted fresh oysters, ceviche, and sushi would be gameday staples?
"It makes sense, given how America’s changing," Rapicavoli says. "All these different cuisines throughout the stadium, it’s a representation of what America is — diverse, multicultural. The old stadium classics, popcorn, peanuts, represent what America is, too. But the national pastime is changing to reflect the diversity of the country today — it’s really cool."
Enter the Cubano sandwich. The stadium isn’t in Little Havana, but the version at Latin American Grill in Marlins Park is as close as what you’d get in the neighborhood. Slowly boiled ham, Swiss cheese, dill pickles, on a grilled hero roll — Rapicavoli sinks his teeth into the sandwich while it’s piping hot. "It’s cool to be able to get such an old-school sandwich in a modern stadium like this," he says.
Then it’s off to Don Cameron for a different taste of Miami: seafood. The ceviche is cool and refreshing in the South Florida heat, but the fritters are something else. The Bahamian recipe is made with conch, a rare kind of shellfish, fried with onion, bell peppers, and topped with a squeeze of lime. They’re messy, just the perfect touch of greasy, and delicious.
The international tour of food continues: A pit stop for American comfort food at High Cheese, where they combine the two classics, fried chicken and grilled cheese, to make a hybrid fried chicken and pimento grilled cheese. Clearly this is no ordinary grilled cheese sandwich— pimento is called the "caviar of the South" for a reason, and then there's that fried chicken tender that tastes great on its own, but even better when slathered with cheese. Then it's off to Suviche for sushi fusion that's hard to believe: a Marlins shrimp tempura roll and then a japo taco. It's rice, spicy tuna piled into a crispy tortilla and topped with eel sauce and avocado. "Only in Miami," Rapicavoli says with a laugh.
And because this sweet tooth has to end with a game with some sort of sugar, it’s finally time to visit a Miami institution: the Cuban ice cream shop Azacur Ice Cream Company. It’s one of Rapicavoli’s favorite stops in the city, and he uses the company to supply his restaurant. Naturally, he couldn’t say no to Azacur’s famous Maria Abuela flavor: vanilla ice cream with swirls of red guava, cream cheese, and gallettas. "There’s nothing better than this," he says, watching baseball and digging into his cone.